Olympic narrative

  Watching the live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics in the UK, I feel that it is indeed much lower-key than in the past few sessions. The British media spoke highly of the opening ceremony in general, especially the dance clips at the beginning and the transition from the mascot to the image of the earth performed by the drone swarm in the night sky towards the end. The descriptions I heard were “quiet”, “succinct”, “moving”, and even “poignant” and so on.
  I believe that when the Tokyo Olympic Games organizers designed the opening ceremony a few years ago, they did not expect to convey such a message. I have seen from some reports that the organizers originally wanted to use the Olympic Games to show the world that Japan has returned to life after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At this point, the goal for 2020 is to align with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, because it was through that Olympics that Japan declared to the world that it had stepped out of the shadow of World War II and re-entered the ranks of normal modern countries.
  In the past few days, I have watched the documentary filmed by Japanese director Ichikawa Kun for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and I am quite impressed. That year, the organizing committee asked the director who had just won the award at the Cannes Film Festival to make a film, probably because he wanted to make an epic promotional film. Ichikawa Kun really created an excellent film, but it was not what the organizing committee expected. In the end, the organizing committee cut an officially approved 84-minute version. But Ichikawa Kun himself produced a 163-minute director’s cut version. This version set a movie box office record when it was released in Japan in 1965, and was not broken by Spirited Away until 2001.
  I watched the director’s cut version and another two-hour long version, and I can probably understand why the director’s cut version was not accepted by the organizing committee. In this version, of course, there are still many competition shots showing athletes’ corrective postures, but at the same time a lot of space is used in some seemingly minor details: the athletes’ tension and concentration during warm-up preparations, painful struggles during competitions, and after failures. The frustration and loss, and even the emptiness after winning.
  For example, in order to represent the women’s 80-meter hurdle final, the director spent more time in the race to show how the athletes kept themselves calm within a few minutes before the game; the women’s 100-meter backstroke final just ended and the camera immediately moved from the finish line. The panorama turned to the scene where the Japanese player who was ranked fourth and missed the medal was swimming alone; the Japanese women’s volleyball team defeated the Soviet Union in the final to win the championship. The expression of coach Omatsu Bowen was not ecstatic but relieved.
  Ichichuankun’s film does not conform to the “positive” narrative of the Olympic Games organized by the organizing committee, but it is more like a reflection of the real world-athletes must adjust their competitive level and psychological state to the best, overcome inner tension and anxiety, and transcend the body. The limit that can be endured; even so, the probability of failure is still very high, so even in the noisy arena, the athletes are still extremely lonely in their hearts.
  Many people say that there are no spectators at this Olympics, and the interaction between athletes and spectators on site and the resulting appreciation are lost. In my opinion, after more than a year of lockdowns or control measures brought about by the epidemic, the audience in front of the TV is probably better able to understand through their own personal experience that the athletes without the support of the live audience are facing various pressures alone. , It is not easy to struggle physically and psychologically and challenge yourself to achieve your goals.
  In the competitive arena, many human living conditions and emotions are condensed into the purest form, and then exploded in front of the audience. The success of Ichichuankun film lies in the capture of these details. Back to the present, under the shadow of the new crown epidemic, on a stadium without spectators, the performance of athletes, whether it is success or failure, joy or pain, will be the purest embodiment of our time.